Christmas in our Hearts

Christmas is in the air!

The season starts earlier than the traditional Misa de Gallo. The Advent Season or the waiting and preparation for the birth of Jesus lasts four weeks.

Advent is commonly symbolized by a green wreath and four candles which stand for the advent themes: hope, love, joy and peace.

Instead of the usual advent wreath, Bayview Park Hotel Manila adorned  its Coffee Shop with the advent themes. I find this more impressive in making guests feel the spirit of Christmas and remind them of what the season truly means.

They also made five instead of four themes:

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For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11)

But those who hope in the Lord
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint. (Isaiah 40:31)

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (Romans 8:25)

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel. (Isaiah 14:7)

 Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. (1 John 4:20)

However, as it is written: What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived — the things God has prepared for those who love him. (1 Corinthians 2:9)

See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. (1 John 3:1)

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him wouldn’t perish, but would have eternal life. (John 3:16)

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Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, and your joy will be complete. (John 16:24)

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
and how good is a timely word! (Proverbs 15:23)

But godliness with contentment is great gain. (1 Timothy 6:6)

The father of a righteous child has great joy;
a man who fathers a wise son rejoices in him. (Proverbs 23:24)

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Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. (2 Corinthians 9:7)

Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. (Deuteronomy 15:10)

Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD your God which He has given you. (Deuteronomy 16:17)

Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to do it. (Proverbs 3:27)

He who is generous will be blessed, for he gives some of his food to the poor. (Proverbs 22:9)

Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return. (Luke 6:38)

 

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. (Revelation 21:4)

Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! (Psalm 34:8)

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. (Isaiah 55:1)

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. (Ecclesiastes 3:12)

When others are happy, be happy with them. If they are sad, share their sorrow. (Romans 12:15)

This year, let’s celebrate a meaningful and significant Christmas by making Jesus the focus in the midst of lights and festivities.

Merry Christmas!

***All photos taken November 2016 at Bayview Park Hotel Manila.

Zamboanga City Tour

While braving the streets of the City of Zamboanga to take random photos, I came across Errold Bayona who was conducting a tour for a group of guests. With a very short interruption of his routine, I came to know the Asosacion de Guia Turistica del Zamboanga (AGTZ) and the Walking Tour project of Turismo Local de Zamboanga.

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Each registered tourist is tagged with a wrist band, probably to identify them from other tourists and other people in the busy streets.

I wont give much details of the tour lest I’d be a spoiler. Just to share some highlights.

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The tour started off at Fort Pilar. There’s no denying the walls are very old. But amazing how they still look the same as they were centuries ago.

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The insides of the Fort is free to public access. With AGTZ, you get to know that parts of these structures were utilized as quarters, hospital and storage, among others, and other related stories.

20161007_093437This is the building leading to the entrance. Part of which is presently occupied by Fort Pilar Branch of National Museum. Unlike the other buildings, the walls on this one are made of bricks. Has the architect possibly designed this to be different from the rest? Which among the buildings has the original design? Your guide will tell you.

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Outside the eastern wall is the shrine of Our Lady of the Pillar. The carvings on the wall tells the story of the first Marian apparition to St. James in Zaragoza, Spain, thus the name Real Fuerza de Nuestra Señora del Pilar de Zaragoza. I’d like to share the story in another post.

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The huge trunks of Acacia trees along Pettit Barracks easily gives away their age. True enough, the trees lining up this street are centuries old. This one was 110 years old as declared in 2009. The oldest was 155 years old.

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The old photo shows the city hall as it was being constructed. A closer look at the canopy along the windows and some other parts of the building would show carvings of stars – symbol that it was erected by the Americans.

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It’s fascinating how this building may seem to be of contemporary architecture but at the same time preserved its original design. The city is regulating the architectural designs of renovating old structures and building new ones in order to preserve the cultural heritage of the place. Rightfully so. The city is gifted with such a rich and wonderful history.

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So this is the team that I have to thank for this quick, enlightening and fun journey. Glad to have found new friends along the way.

Registration for the Walking Tour is at the AGTZ post at Paseo del Mar. They are open 9:00am to 7:00pm until October 11, 2016.

Will You Marry Me? (May annulment naman, eh)

I have belatedly read an article saying that more pinoy couples are seeking annulment despite high cost. It seems many are interested in ending their marriage instead of looking solution/s to their problems. Di na uso ang martyr. Instant gratification is met by separation.

“Ang pag-aasawa, hindi yan kagaya ng kanin na isusubo at iluluwa pag napaso.” That old adage is now ignored by couples marrying at young age or at short-term courtship. The “getting to know” stage happens already during marriage. When the relationship turns sour, one just leaves the marriage.

The thought of easy escape may be the reason a person easily jumps into the marital pit. May annulment naman, eh. There is no longer embarrassment when one admits that his/her marriage is a failure. The stigma of being “separada” is gone. It’s so sad to think that lesser pinoys respect the sanctity of marriage enough to fight for it to last “til death do us part.”

The Pre-Marriage Counseling should be required to all applicants for marriage license not just to those aging 18 to 25 years as required by Article 16 of the Family Code and strict compliance thereof be monitored to prevent “paper compliance.” The certificates of marriage counseling will not serve its purpose if the couple did not actually attend counseling.

Annulment of marriage is not a fast and easy proceeding. Not only will it require the amount of 300,000 to 1,000,000 budget, it will entail a painful and embarrassing process of exposing each of the couple’s flaws.

There is no assurance that a petition for annulment of marriage will be granted by the Court. That will depend on the existence of the grounds for annulment, skills of the lawyer, and available connections. And budget – no one can expect a lawyer to advance the cost of litigation while client short of fund. Not easy way out. This should be learned by a person before applying for a marriage license.

Think before saying “I do.”

Competitive Compensation

My boss just told me that I am very well paid compared to my colleagues in the profession. He says it’s according to a lawyer of his friend with whom he met yesterday for a possible project. Of course he just said it in passing, he knows he can’t reduce it legally.

I don’t think so though. I can’t even afford to pay for some of my basic needs as required of my profession. I pay my bills late. Worst, people around are of the impression that I have everything at the palm of my hand.

I browsed through job sites to check on the average salary that lawyers at my level are getting. Indeed, most job openings of corporate lawyers are below my present salary but there were a few who offer around the amount. But the job descriptions in those posts are strictly legal practice. My case is a little different. Being a CPA, I am involved in the financial management of the company. I sign checks, which requires high risk in my personal capacity. It’s the signatory who is liable for BP 22, not the corporation. Not that there’s chance of us issuing unfunded checks.

So there. I’m whining. I was not asking for a raise. I just don’t like anyone saying that I’m getting more than I should.

Wet Night

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We left Manila at exactly 4:00pm and arrived to the place at 9:00pm. Blame it to the traffic and lack of planning. It was a Saturday and many residents of Metro Manila would take a weekend off. The south bound lane of EDSA is heavy with traffic and so with most exits of NLEX. Taking the Skyway provided little help to speed up the travel time. Lesson learned: don’t hit the road on rush hours.

Thanks to a gay friend who entertained us along the way with variety of stories. He has it all. You name it from biblical, corporate, entertainment and scandals. I will not forget the story of the greatest accountant of all times. Joseph the Dreamer. Come to think of it, I never thought that accounting already exists even before Christ! They never taught about it in Accounting 101. Not even in review school.

Most of the employees arrived ahead of us. Maybe their drivers knew more alternate routes than ours. The place is not along the highway. I would advise browsing through Google Maps before going there. And so we’re here at Amore Mio Resort! In front of the gate and front wall is the only parking area which would accommodate around six vehicles. We were greeted by the caretaker whom we have mistaken for the owner because of his Caucasian looks. We spoke to him in English. He timidly smiled and explained that he is oftentimes mistaken for the owner but he is actually the caretaker. The owner has private room but do not live in the resort.

The resort is spacious for a group of sixty to one hundred persons. It has a kiddie pool, which is also occupied by non-swimming adults, and a seven feet pool for adults. This is safe enough for those who would date to dive. The pool area offers a nice view during night time because of the fountains and underwater light effects. It’s a regret not to have a camera in times and places like this.

Swimming is the best exercise as it moves all parts of the body. It’s the fastest way to trigger hunger too. Times like this, we need to befriend the people at the kitchen and grill area. Thanks to them, we have non-stop supply of grilled meat, adobo, all kinds of fried “something” and green mangoes salad.

After enjoying the waters, we indulged in karaoke. Unlimited songs for limited voices. No one seems to mind, so “birit”! There’s also a billiard table in the area so you can play while waiting for your song, or sing while waiting for your game.

By 2:00pm I can’t fight my need to sleep anymore. I was housed in a matrimonial bed so it’s such a comfort. I was asleep soon as my back hit the bed. Hours later, I felt my body drench in sweat. How can I perspire in my sleep? I checked the air conditioning unit and it’s off! My roommates arrived and turned it off. They might have had hypothermia from hours of swimming. So I fired it up and went back to sleep. I was awakened again by the humid feeling and found out that the aircon is off again. I stood up and turned it on. This went on until we finally went to the pool side for breakfast. Well, we never expected this outing to be perfect.

At 8:00am, we left the place and arrived at Metro Manila in less than an hour. How’s that compared to the five hours travel the other day? That means we can sleep all day or better yet get a good massage to relieve body pains caused by last night’s activities.

Overall, we had a good time. The resort was just perfect for the event. We enjoyed the amenities it offered and of course, the privacy.

Labored on Labor Day

It’s a legal holiday. A paid non-working day in honor of the workers of the labor sector. This should be perfect time for rest or a vacation to nearby places. But since it falls on a Wednesday, many will just stay home and bond with the family. A movie marathon would be a good way to pass time, or a book if living solo.

If a holiday falls on a midweek, many workers volunteer to work. Why not? They will be paid double. And additional 30% if they work beyond eight hours. Some industries operate twenty-four-seven and thus require workers to report to work in full or skeletal on holidays.

But the law is not literally applied equally in this case. The above benefit applies only to labor workers. Managers working today gets no additional 100% pay. They wont get no deduction for not working today either. It wont be surprising to see the managers in complete attendance while the laborers are on skeletal schedule on holidays.

I was compelled to report to office due to a pre-scheduled appointment. I was so careless not to notice I set it on a holiday. I made a mental note to highlight all holidays in red in my planner. The “official to do list” was finished by lunch time. I still have time to make a few calls then blog 😉 then go malling with the family.

The Daughter Astray

By chance I went inside St. Peter’s Parish Church at Tungkong Mangga. I say by chance because it’s not really where I intend to go but it’s along the path of my destination.

It is Sunday. As a Catholic, it should be on the top of my “to do list” for the day to go to church and worship. But habit dictates otherwise. I blame it to the limited time off work, though being a Christian, I know my priorities are not in the proper order.

I was expecting a mass celebration. The church was packed when I came in and a male voice was leading the ceremony. “Isinasalikway mo ba si Satanas?” (Do you reject Satan?). I instantly knew that this is a celebration of the Sacrament of Baptism. I recalled immediately the text message I received early in the morning of the same day which says, “all is decided by chance, by being in the right place at the right time.” I looked around. Am I in the right place at the right time? Recalling the reason I left home with a heavy heart this morning, I decided, yes, this is where i’m supposed to be at this very moment.

Why would the heavens lead me to witness a baptismal ceremony? Baptism is the very first sacrament received by a Catholic. Through this celebration, a child is welcomed to Christianity, stripped of original sin. 

Priest: Do you reject Satan?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Priest: And all his works?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Priest: Do you reject sin, so as to live in the freedom of God’s children?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Priest: Do you reject the glamour of evil, and refuse to be mastered by sin?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Priest:Do you reject Satan, father of sin and prince of darkness?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Priest: Do you believe in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Priest: Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary, was crucified, died, and was buried, rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of the Father?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

Priest: Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?

Parents and Godparents: I do.

The same vows are renewed annually by the faithful on Black Saturday of the Lenten Season or the Feast of the Ascension where the Paschal Candle is lit and baptismal waters are blessed.

Following my intuition, I joined the chorus of the crowd in answering the priest’s questions, and renewed my vows of faith and renunciation of sins. I poured my heart out in surrender of a sinful who was called by her Creator. I didn’t have to look for him. In his time, he led me to his house to tell me where I belong. Amidst the chaos of the world, i felt the cradle in God’s loving hands.